From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlanto Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.
Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s? Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?
Some answers can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.
For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz. One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical. We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it. When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.
Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.
*I don’t want to overlook Annie Ross’ pioneering vocalese contributions from the early 1950s, when she crafted original, witty lyrics to Wardell Gray’s recordings of “Twisted,” “Farmer’s Market,” and “Jackie.”
August 2017 Hi Friends — vocalese: a genre of jazz singing in which lyrics are written and sung to melodies that originally were improvised instrumental jazz solos Yes, there are a few earlier, one-off instances of vocalese writing and singing, but Eddie Jefferson is understood to have invented the genre sometime in the 1940s. (But not the word — he preferred “vocalmentals.”) Jon Hendricks, largely through his work with the trio, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, during the 1950s and ‘60s is the genre’s most prolific exponent. And it is about time the two of them were included in any serious discussion of American song’s most important lyricists.* People always ask, “Which comes first, the words or the music?” (Sammy Cahn always answered, “The money!”) Well, Lorenz Hart wrote lyrics to Richard Rodgers’ melodies, but then Rodgers set melodies to Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics. Anyway, few lyricists ever tried to put words to music as complex as solos by James Moody or Miles Davis, or full performances by the Duke Ellington Orchestra or the Horace Silver Quintet. But that’s exactly what Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks did. Their methods were slightly different, but equally inventive. Eddie wrote in a decidedly “stream of consciousness” manner, letting the flow and the contour of a particular solo carry his imagination to wherever it might take him. Jon generally found his inspiration in the songs’ titles, often spinning them into clever threecharacter “plays” for himself, Dave Lambert, and Annie Ross. “It’s like opera,” he once mused, “except it’s bopera.” Now add to their creativity, complexity, and immense body of work one more credential: their connection to music beyond jazz. If you strip away the melody — but don’t, OK? — you can hear the roots of rap in Eddie’s lyric to James Moody’s solo on “Lester Leaps In,” retitled “I Got the Blues.” And Jon’s erudite, upbeat, life-affirming lyrics, like the one he wrote to Miles Davis’ “Four,” are echoed in the positive messages of funk hits like Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star,” Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everybody Is a Star.” Poet-historian Hilaire Belloc declared, “It is the best of all trades to make songs, and the second best to sing them.” And Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks have done both with as much skill and artistry as any man or woman who ever put words to music. Stay cool, and keep list’nin’, Bob Bernotas - Just Jazz e-Newsletter
I´d really appreciate it if you could take the time to look at my work and leave your impressions here or in the guestbook on my homepage -http://www.miartemartagracielabressi.webs.com/- where there are more samples of my digital art works, engravings and sculptures. The web site´s in Spanish but, if you want to read the texts in English, you can access my Livejournal:
You can also visit the website we created with the Belgian jazz musician Dirk Schreurs to make our recent video art collaboration known to the world:
http://www.mindsofglass.webs.com/ ¨ Minds of Glass: ¨All visual compositions perfectly match the soundtrack’s expressive aesthetics in terms of emotional content and artistic strength” (New York/Los Angeles Independent Media Board).
I would love to feature "you" as my guest on my show..If I am not your friend..please add me...also please call me @ the offc at 757 538 3540...757 971 3733 for details...click on the banner below to be a guest...JB
I came of age as a jazz appreciator in Pittsburgh and getting into Eddie before he left( and George did a decent Moody's )( I knew whom Errol Garner was). Nathan Davis and Andre Previn was there - that was the reasons Pitt was such a great value , because of the city itself. Duquense, Point Park, Chatham,etc. 200 miles from my doorstep! Actually Philly is 100 miles away making Pa. a great jazz state!